The chasing pack has formed at the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, and it falls in line behind first-round leader Harry Hall. The Englishman shot out the gates with an 8-under 62 on Thursday, and backed it up admirably with a 4-under 68 to command a three-stroke lead heading into the weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.
Despite an early hiccup, Hall looked resolute in his second stroll around Colonial when doubt could have easily crept into the back of his mind. Dropping a shot on the par-4 13th, his fourth hole of the day, Hall bounced back with five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn. Exchanging a bogey and a birdie from there, the former UNLV Runnin' Rebel looks to run away from the rest of the field over the course of the final 36 holes.
He will have his work cut out for him as Colonial will only continue to firm up with a course renovation looming. This may play into the hands of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who finds himself half a dozen back after back-to-back 67s. Enjoying himself a healthy diet of tee-to-green prowess, the local Texan will aim to make amends for last year's tournament that saw him squander a back-nine lead late on Sunday.
"I feel like I played really well," said Scheffler. "A lot of good iron shots, a lot of good drives. I gave myself a lot of looks, and I hit a lot of good putts today. Just the greens got pretty chewed up this afternoon, and the grass is dying already. I think they're kind of taking advantage of the fact that they're blowing up the greens on Monday, so they're pushing them as far as they can. When it gets that frictionless in spots, it can be pretty difficult to putt, especially when they're chewed up, but all you can do is keep rolling it well, and that's what I did this afternoon."
1. Harry Hall (-12)
The opening 62 will get all the headlines, but the 66 on Friday was equally impressive. Hall once again leaned on a red-hot putter while gaining nearly seven strokes on the greens through the first two rounds. As Scheffler pointed out above, those greens may become even more difficult to navigate and could throw a wrinkle in Hall's weekend plans. His short game has been stellar, but for Hall to grab his first career victory on the PGA Tour and fend off the best player in the world in the process, his ball striking will have to carry the load.
2. Harris English (-9)
3. Emiliano Grillo (-8)
T4. Adam Schenk, Robby Shelton, Byeong Hun An (-7)
T7. Scottie Scheffler, Andrew Novak (-6)
T9. Austin Eckroat, Carson Young, Justin Rose (-5)
It's easy to forget just how good English was before undergoing hip surgery in 2022. The Georgia Bulldog is two years removed from a 2021 season that included two victories, a nomination for PGA Tour Player of the Year and a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. English contended in major championships and reached as high as 10th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and is slowly but surely returning to such form. After podium finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Wells Fargo Championship, English is taking another step in that direction this week.
"Very steady today," said English. "Hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. When I did get in trouble off the tee or around the green, I got up and down. Made a really nice par on No. 9. Some of those hole locations, it's tough to get close to. I had a lot of what seemed like 15- or 20-footers and didn't make much. Had a really good chance on 18 and hit a really good putt and it didn't go in. But as long as I keep that ball striking going and keep giving myself chances, then some good things will happen this weekend."
Bye, bye Blockie
The man who took Rochester, New York, by storm will be storming off into the sunset. Rounds of 81-74 gave Michael Block a two-round total of 15-over 155 and an early flight home. Block simply did not have it around Colonial CC but will return to the spotlight sooner rather than later. The 46-year-old Club Professional will also be in the field for the 2023 Canadian Open in two weeks' time.
"I practiced a lot in my life," said Block. "I spent so many hours on a chipping green, putting green, I can't even explain to you. Like years, years. If you added up all the minutes that I spent around Whitmoor Country Club's chipping and putting green in St. Louis, Missouri -- St. Charles, actually -- it would be insane. It would be years. It would be probably 10 years worth. Nobody is around me. Nobody telling me to do it. I just loved it. I loved it, and it paid off."
Another first for Jordan Spieth
It's not a good first for the local favorite as Spieth will be sent packing early for the first time in his career at Colonial. Spieth arrived having finished outside the top 15 just once in 10 showings with a victory and three runner-up results to his name. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old never looked comfortable this time around. He struggled on the greens Thursday only to be marginally better on Friday. Spieth joins Tony Finau, Sungjae Im and Cameron Davis as notables to miss out on the weekend action.
2023 Charles Schwab Challenge updated odds and picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Harry Hall: 11/4
- Scottie Scheffler: 33/10
- Harris English: 9/2
- Emiliano Grillo: 8-1
- Byeong Hun An: 14-1
- Justin Rose: 18-1
- Adam Schenk: 22-1
- Robby Shelton: 25-1
- Max Homa: 30-1
This has the makeup of a Scheffler victory. He's within shouting distance, leading the field in strokes gained tee to green and has yet to get anything out of his putter. That has been the case for most of the season, but expect that to change as he burned his fair share of edges late Friday. Hall has built himself a nice cushion, but Scheffler's quality will be too much to overcome over the course of the final 36 holes as Colonial continues to bake out and becomes even more difficult. Get in now on the world No. 1.